Emotional Cravings During the Holiday Season
Triggers and emotional cravings relating to mental difficulties are very common for those of us in recovery during the holiday season. We previously discussed three different types of cravings individuals might face in addiction recovery, one of the most complex of these being emotional cravings. This week I want to dive deeper into the concept of emotional cravings and just how prominent they can be during the notoriously stressful holiday season.
Emotional Cravings in Addiction Recovery
Emotional cravings and emotionally charged triggers are a frequent component in recovery for those who have addictions that relate to emotionally difficult situations or traumas. I have often felt that my addiction to sex and pornography was rooted in something much deeper because in active addiction I would act out sexually when I felt like my life was out of control, especially in matters with my family.
Even now when things feel chaotic, traumatic, or triggering it is my immediate reaction to do something reckless or self-sabotaging. I don't always feel the urge to partake in addictive behaviors, but I definitely feel unwell and unstable emotionally, mentally, and sometimes even physically.
When I feel like too much is happening outside of my control in my life, I now know that I'm experiencing some type of emotional trigger and I've learned to use the tools in my toolbox in response to these triggers. The most effective tool is an emergency session with my therapist, but if she isn't available then doing some guided meditation practices or going for a walk can also help to level me out until my next scheduled session.
The least effective response to an emotional trigger (leading to emotional cravings) is to do nothing. You must do something. Doing nothing, existing in denial, or pretending that everything is fine is by far the least effective tactic.
Find out what works for you in your recovery. You can start by establishing a list of healthy self-care routines and go from there. Reference your list when faced with triggers and cravings of this magnitude and always seek out the opinion of a mental health professional if things become unmanageable.
Holiday Season Triggers and Emotional Cravings
Emotionally charged triggers and cravings look different for everyone and that can vary even more drastically during the holiday season. Everyone has a different family dynamic and we all have our own special breed of family dysfunction. However, if you ask me, none of us are completely spared from family drama and trauma during the holiday season.
My personal family dysfunction includes an eclectic blend of mental health disorders, plenty of multi-decade family feuds, as well as conflicts over financial and political differences. Needless to say, every time we get together it is both dramatic and traumatic for each and every one of us.
The holiday season can bring out the worst in almost everyone, but I think for recovering addicts with deeply complex emotional histories things can feel even heavier. During my first few years in recovery, I nearly always had either a mental or physical relapse around this time of year because of how out of control my life felt both financially and relationally.
The good news is that every year things get a little bit easier and slightly more manageable than the year prior. This time of year might always be challenging for me for reasons outside of my control, but that doesn't mean that my cravings have to control me.
When faced with an emotionally difficult situation that leads to emotional cravings, keep in mind that the holidays won't last forever.
Stay strong. Keep fighting. Happy holidays.
Richardson, A. (2019, December 19). Emotional Cravings During the Holiday Season, HealthyPlace. Retrieved on 2020, July 14 from https://www.healthyplace.com/blogs/debunkingaddiction/2019/12/emotional-cravings-during-the-holiday-season
Author: Amanda Richardson
Merry Christmas! I just discovered this site today. I'm dealing with my daughter who is an Addict. Myself and my granddaughter have started therapy. I'm raising my granddaughter by myself. Her Momma passed 5yrs ago. My remaining daughter has lost all 4 of my grandchildren. She's verbally abusive. I've gained so much insight into what she's going through. Thank You.
Merry Christmas to you, as well! I'm so sorry that you've endured so much heartache from your loved one's addictions. It is so sweet of you to seek out knowledge on addiction to help those who are still fighting with this. That shows a lot of love and support on your end. If you have any specific questions on addiction or recovery always feel free to post a comment and I can maybe make future blog posts based on requests. Wishing you all the best on your journey! - Amanda